By Stephen Ubanna
Those who think that it is still the Contraband Foreign par boiled rice COVID 19 palliatives, of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, that are being l looted in various warehouses across the country would be disappointed.
Hameed Ali , a retired Army colonel, and Comptroller General, NCS, on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General, early this year, had handed over 150 trucks, loaded with Foreign par boiled rice of 50Kg each and other items to Sadiya Omar Farouk, minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Development, for distribution to the 36 states of the Federation and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
The Lagos state government alone, was said to have got an allocations of over 6,000 bags of 50 Kg each of rice from the ministry , which was said to have been shared to the residents of the state.
But the state allocation of the private coalition palliatives against COVID 19, was said to have been stored in a 60×60 warehouse located on Benster Crescent , popular, Monkey village, at Mazamaza Community in Oriade Council Development Area of the state. The Osun state government, on its part, had stored its allocation at the old Cocoa Industry warehouse at Ede, in the state while Mohammed Bello, the minister of the FCT, stored its allocation which include rice, semovita, macaroni, spaghetti and fertilizers in a warehouse at Gwagwalada Area Council .
Ondo, Kwara, Taraba, Cross river, Kaduna and some other states were said to have also stored their allocations of the private sector COVID 19 , palliatives support, at other warehouses . The discoveries of these palliatives in alleged hidden warehouses by the hoodlums masquerading as END SARS protesters may have exposed the government and its officials of hoarding the Food items for distribution TO the electorate in the upcoming 2023, general elections.
. Bayo Jimoh, Secretary to the Food and Relief Committee on COVID 19 palliatives in Osun state may have given an insight on why the states have not been able to distribute the palliatives when he said that they were waiting for the official Flag off of the distribution from the Federal government.
Jimoh, had insisted that the Food items found in the warehouses forcefully opened were not hoarded by the government or any of its officials for uuse in the future. What Jimoh, the Secreatary to the , Osun state Committee on Food and Relief on COVID 19, palliatives was not different from what Hajia Hadiza Balarabe, the deputy governor of Kaduna state had said. The Kaduna state deputy governor had said that ‘’the private sector coalition donations against COVID 19, were ’’ never hoarded by the government and any of its officials’’.
According to her,there was no basis for the aggrieved Youths to break into any warehouse where these COVID `19 palliatives were stored in the states and for people to freely cart away the Food items meant for people who are vulnerable t. Hajia Balarabe had said that in Kaduna, state, for instance, Nasir El-Rufai, the state governor had given the nod to the committee handling the distribution exercise to go ahead with it but the Committee wants to do a good job by arranging a fair and efficient system to ensure a hitch-free exercise.
Insiders told The Value News that it was the bursting of the warehouse at Monkey village, Mazamaza Area of Lagos state by the hoodlums that paved the way for hoodlums in other states of the Federation and the FCT, to invade and loot such warehouses found in their respective states and the FCT.
The Sokoto state Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, set up by Aminu Tambuwal, the governor, may have beaten the hoodlums to it as it was said to have started the distribution of the palliatives stored in the warehouse to the people. Zubairu Albadau, Special Adviser to Tambuwal, the Sokoto state governor , who was said to have flagged off the exercise had said that the palliatives had been distributed to beneficiaries at Isa, Sabon Birni and Gada Local government Areas of the state. He had assured other Local government areas yet to be reached to be patients as arrangement had been concluded to commence the distribution of the COVID 19 palliatives anytime soon.
Political analysts argued that there was no basis for the government to have delayed the distribution of the Food items which were in the stored in different warehouses across the country when other nations are taking good care of their citizenry. They cited the North American country of the United States, US, where all Tax payers were said to have been given a COVID 19 palliative of $1,000 by President Donald Trump.
Worried over the politics played at the Federal and state level over the distribution of the COVID 19 palliatives stored in the warehouses in the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT, Political analysts had said that the Buhari Administration has questions to answers.
The heat on the governors over the hoodlums bursting of warehouses in their respective states where the COVID 19 palliatives are stored may have forced the Leadership of the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF , to speak out in order to clear their name over allegations of hoarding the Food items.
Abdulrazaq Bello-Barkindo, spokesperson of the Forum, had told those that cares to listen that’’ no state has been involved in or has hoarded any palliative’’. Barkindo had said that the palliatives found in warehouses that were broken into in Lagos and some other states of the Federation were kept in storage for members of the society , particular, the vulnerable group. He explained that’’ some of the palliatives had the CACOVID 19 stamp embossed on them, meaning that that their source is unambiguous ’’.
Given an insider information, Barkindo, the NGF, spokesperson, disclosed that ‘’until mid- October, 2020, when the governors had their last meeting , only 26 states were said to have participated in the Flag-Ceremonies for the distribution the palliatives in their respective states.
He had stated further that the states that still had palliatives in their warehouses chose to keep ‘’ to keep a strategic reserve ahead of a projected second wave of COVID 19’’, at a time when people are looking for what to eat. He may have indicted theministry overseeing the distribution of the palliatives of worsening matters. According to him, as at now, ‘’some of the states were still receiving palliatives from the Hajia Omar-Farouk led ministry of HJumanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Development and wondered how such states could plan for the distribution of their own palliatives without distrIBUtion. The Nigerian President who is not happy over the looting of th warehouses where COVID 19 palliatives are stored I Lagos and some other states of the Federation and the FCT, had pleaded with parents and guardians ‘’not to encourage their children and wards to partake in the nationwide looting of warehouses where COVID 19 palliatives are stored across the country. He had urged wives to force their husbands ‘’to return looted Food items brought home by their wards as it has not been accounted for by the states’’.
Moreso, he had said that he had said that he had refused to be dragged into any discussion on the alleged shooting of END SARS protesters at Lekki Toll ate in Lagos state ’’until all the facts are established’’. He may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he said that the ‘’machinery of the government and the wheel of justice will turn against the perpetrators of murder, arson, stealing, rape, assault and malicious damage to public and private property’’.
He had given words to assist the nation ‘’to give justice to peaceful END SARS protesters who lost their lives , security men who were murdered, and property owners whose assets were vandalized and looted across the country. PA, Recall that he had sent Babatunde Fashola, a former Lagos state and minister of Worka and Housing as well as other ministers from the south west geo-political serving in the All Progressive Congress, APC, government to pay a visit to Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Lagos state governor to Commiserate with him over the public and private proverty destroyed in the state and make assessment. He was said to have also asked the ministers to make a stop over the Nigerian ports Authority, NPA, under the close watch of Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman, and the state DNA Forensic Unit was said by the hoodlums and report back to him. Let us hope that he will keep to his words to support the Lagos state government to fix the damaged facilities and compensate private business looted by the hoodlums. It had been estimated that about N3 trillion would be needed to fix back the damaged infrastructural facilities across the country, according to analysts.